Congratulations to our February South East Radio, Talbot Hotel Outstanding Achievement Award Winner, Phil Skelton.
Phil is a member of the Slaney Cycling Club based in Enniscorthy. The club is very strong with approximately 60 members. He is a keen cyclist and is the ‘go to man’ in the club for safety on the road. He contributes so much and has worked on projects at a National Level. Phil’s advice is to get a check-up from your doctor before you start to cycle and then to build up your fitness level.
Phil has been pushing that Cycle Safety is so important…… Be Safe, Be Seen, Be Aware. Five years ago he set up the ‘Staying Alive at 1.5 Campaign’. This campaign pursued the adoption of a law that requires motorists to gives cyclists a minimum passing distance in line with what 45 jurisdictions worldwide will have now. It’s important for cyclists to have this minimum passing virtual space on the road as there is not a designated cycling infrastructure across Ireland. When on a bike you are only one pot hole or one driver distraction away from becoming another road statistic. This idea was driven by a real life experience. Five years ago there were two cyclist road fatalities on the Wexford Roads within eight months of each other and between these times Phil himself was clipped into a ditch by a passing motorist on the Newline Road. Rather than give up an activity he really loved, he did some research to see what other countries have done about this. They had introduced a cyclist specific minimum passing distance law. If you are in your car and you see a cyclist you have to allow 1.5m of lateral space when overtaking. If you put out your two arms and close your fists that is roughly 1.5m. His message is ‘If you don’t have that space, please hang back until you do’.
Cycling Ireland, the governing body for competitive cycling in Ireland have introduced a cycle rights scheme which trains children at school on how to cycle properly and how to engage in traffic. Be Safe and Be Seen is important, but you also have to be understood when you are on the road. You have to position yourself properly.
Phil was shocked when he became the January winner of the Outstanding Achievement Awards. He has done so much for the cycling community and for Road Safety. Well done from all of us here in South East Radio and the Talbot Hotel, Wexford. Everyone who rides a bike is being protected by this law and we owe Phil a great deal of gratitude. He has brought the profile of cycling to a new level. People need to share the road in a responsible manner and because of Phil we now have a law there to protect everybody. He said ‘to win an accolade like this is a massive honour’.